Supreme Court Decides in AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen in Favor of Employer and Addresses Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for First Time


On May 18, 2009, the Supreme Court announced its decision in AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen. In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Souter (with Justice Ginsberg and Justice Breyer dissenting), the Court held that an employer does not necessarily violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when it pays pension benefits calculated in part based on an accrual rule – in use prior to the PDA's enactment – that gives less retirement credit for pregnancy than for short-term disability leave. The Court held that the employer's method of calculating benefits was insulated from a Title VII challenge because it was part of a bona fide seniority system. The decision is also the first Supreme Court ruling to address the recently enacted Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (Ledbetter Act), and it limits to a degree the Ledbetter Act's reach in the narrow circumstance where disparities in benefits are based on past, completed actions which were legal when taken.

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